Tottenham repays COVID loan, frees up funds for signings

LONDON (AP) — Tottenham announced Friday it had paid back the 175 million pounds ($243 million) it borrowed from the Bank of England as part of a coronavirus loan scheme, freeing up cash that could help the Premier League club sign players and a new manager.

The north London club said it repaid the low-interest loan from the 250 million pounds ($347 million) it recently raised from institutional investors.

“The club’s ability to manage effectively throughout the COVID period led to discussions with the same institutions that supported the club in 2019 to refinance stadium funding,” Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said in a statement.

“Our institutional investors and banks,” he continued, “have been supportive and positive throughout the pandemic despite the uncertainty in the economy and the lack of fans at the stadium for the past two seasons, for which we are very grateful.”

Tottenham was one of dozens of businesses that borrowed from the central bank’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility last year to tide them over during the pandemic and had pledged not to use the funds for player acquisitions.

The club, still in search of a manager after finishing seventh in the Premier League, had reported an annual loss of 63.9 million pounds ($88.7 million) for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2020, due to the pandemic and fans being shut out of stadiums.

When Tottenham reported its fiscal year-end financial results in November, the club also warned of losing out on more than 150 million pounds ($208 million) in revenue if coronavirus restrictions prevented supporters returning through the season. Fans only returned in limited numbers for the final home game of the season.

Tottenham was the Champions League runner-up in 2019 but has now failed in consecutive seasons to qualify for Europe’s elite and lucrative club competition.

Star striker Harry Kane has asked to be sold because he’s unhappy with the direction of the club.

Besides paying back the central bank, the new funding scheme “will also partially repay a bank loan held by the Bank of America which had a shorter term, moving it to fixed rate 15-year money, locking in low interest rates and extending the tenure of the debt,” the club said.

“The long-term sustainability of the club is paramount and the replacement of short-term debt with long-term financing means we are in a secure financial position,” Levy said.

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